Author Stephen Brown to speak at
Oldham County History Center
LA GRANGE, Ky. (June 2016) – Located in northwestern New Mexico is a place called Chaco Canyon. Author Stephen Brown fell in love with the subtle beauty and spiritual quietness of the canyon and decided to write a mystery about this former major center of Pueblo culture.
“I fell in love with the place,” said Brown. “I like to think that the ancestors whispered a little more of the story in my ear each time I visited.”
Having been born and raised in New Mexico, Brown is very familiar with Chaco Canyon. It is the history of its long forgotten people that he wishes to tell in “Shadows of Chaco Canyon.”
Brown will be the featured speaker Thursday, June 30, for the History Dinner Series at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange, Ky. The program begins with a light meal and cash bar at 6:30 p.m., followed by Brown’s presentation.
His novel opens with the Chaco people gathering at Pueblo Bonito for the Winter Solstice, the most sacred time of the year. Legend tells of a darkness that threatens their sacred way of life. Unless the elders and a few trusted members of the community can avert another catastrophe, the tenuous bonds holding the people together will vanish forever.
Between 850 A.D. and 1130 A.D., the people who lived in Chaco Canyon constructed Great Houses of nearly 700 rooms and engineered grand roadways that run within .5 degrees of true north. The solar and lunar markers they erected accurately track such complex celestial events as the moon’s 18.6-year orbit and the sun’s winter and summer solstices.
“The massive buildings in Chaco Canyon are arrayed on the Earth in a pattern corresponding to the celestial heavens,” said Brown. “The Chacoan people were remarkable engineers, road builders, stone masons, traders, astronomers, and many other things, but they remain a mystery, having abandoned Chaco Canyon and dispersing around 1130.”
Brown said his book is “a murder mystery and historical fiction, recreating the lost civilization of Chaco Canyon, a remarkable place once inhabited by a civilization equal to or surpassing the Inca or Mayans.”
It took him years of research to glean all of the details he needed to write a book that was also very historically accurate. Today, the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is dedicated to preserving the memory of these unique prehistoric peoples.
Brown is a graduate of the Honors Program at the University of New Mexico. “I have taught elementary school and worked in educational outreach for the National Park Service.” He was offered a job with the National Park Service and eventually transferred from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace in Hodgenville, Ky.
While in Hodgenville, he learned a lot about the 16th president. Brown eventually joined the Speakers Roster for the Kentucky Humanities Council and presents several lectures about Lincoln. He has been with the council seven years, having traveled all over the state of Kentucky speaking about Lincoln, pioneer life and the Underground Railroad.
Brown currently lives in Louisville, where “my wife and I have turned our yard into a series of rain gardens featuring native plants.”
In addition to his busy schedule of writing and speaking, Brown teaches Environmental Science for the Louisville Water Co., a role in which he visits a lot of schools in the Jefferson County School system. He is the Project Manager for People for Pollinators, a grant to establish pollinator gardens in schools in Jefferson County.
Last year, Brown released “A Promise Moon,” a book of historical fiction about the Underground Railroad in Kentucky. He has been hard at work on “Island Madness,” a murder mystery that uses historical clues and is set in the present day.
From his presentation for the Oldham County Historical Society, Brown said he hopes the audience gets “a sense of wonder, a dash of curiosity, an entertaining time, an enjoyable evening and an enticing read.”
• Cost for this program is $20 for members and $22 for non-members. Reservations can be made by calling (502) 222-0826.
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